Biology as Poetry: Chemistry

Bacteriophage Ecology Group


A portion, such as of a molecule.

One often sees the term moiety used in describing the subunits making up macromolecules. This is because the subunits are present in the larger polymers but not fully, that is, due to the loss of water molecules during dehydration synthesis. Thus, one speaks of amino acid moieties making up polypeptides or, alternatively, sugar moieties making up polysaccharides.

The term moiety is useful because it would be inaccurate to describe, for example, a protein as consisting of amino acids, and otherwise cumbersome to indicate why this is not the case. Use of the modifier moiety removes both issues.

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